Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors Philadelphia realtors real estate homes for sale

Janis Peterson, GRI, Realtor®

Philadelphia Main Line Homes and Real Estate

Tel:  (610) 642-3744

Fax: (610) 658-0267


Subject: Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney?

Buying a home will probably be the largest transaction you'll undertake. In addition to the enormous financial commitment, homebuyers and sellers face numerous details and a lapful of paperwork, much of which has been drafted in indecipherable legalese. With so much at stake, does it make sense to hire a real estate attorney? The answer: It depends.

Some people will argue that an attorney should review any legally binding document requiring your signature. But unless a state requires you to have representation, buyers and sellers are free to rely on their own abilities.

Should you go it alone?

Consider the complexity of the transaction. Are there extenuating circumstances? Is the deal anything other than straightforward? Is the process intimidating? Are you a first-time homebuyer? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you may want to consider hiring a real estate attorney.

What can you expect?

The attorney's involvement is generally framed by your requirements. You can opt for the soup to nuts approach-in real estate parlance, from offer to closing-or request assistance at any point in the process. For instance, an attorney can draft or review the purchase agreement and ensure that it includes the appropriate clauses or contingencies. Or, he or she may provide assistance with matters related to the closing:
· Title issues
· Preparation or review of the deed
· Counsel regarding how to take the title (joint tenancy, tenancy in common, etc.) and any possible ramifications
· Zoning ordinance and lien issues
· Assistance at the closing itself

How can you find and hire the best attorney to represent your interests?

Ask family, friends and your real estate professional for recommendations. Broaden your selection by contacting the local bar association for referrals. Once you have identified a few candidates, conduct a phone interview with each. Ask about the attorney's experience in residential real estate and the date of his or her last transaction. If the answer is 1970, move on. Inquire as to whether the attorney or someone else in the office will be handling your transaction. And discuss fees up front. You should know whether the attorney bills a flat fee or bills by the hour. (If by the hour, do as much of the work as you can to decrease expenses.) Lastly, request a list of recent references. Contact each one and inquire as to their overall satisfaction with the attorney. Specifically, ask them to rate the attorney on responsiveness, communication skills, effectiveness in representing client interests, and accuracy in estimating costs versus final bill.

"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.

Return to Janis Peterson, GRI Home Page